Johnny Depp’s way into Babybird was through the band’s eight top 40 hit “Bad Old Man”, a track that made him go onto play guitar on two albums and make a million dollar video for the song “Unloveable”.
The video touches on all sorts of darkness — incorporating all the things that make a short promotional film virtually unplayable on mainstream platforms. But that was never the point.
The point is that Babybird’s writer and singer Stephen Jones has never done anything for commercial ends. He’s not that clever. Any success or fame he got crept up and stabbed him in the back, but luckily with a kid’s rubber knife and merely agitated him into doing something way more interesting.
To tickle out different reactions and emotions from the listener. Using dark matter, or a sweet sourness to stop listeners in their tracks. All laid on a bed of what hopefully is always extremely catchy music.
He still writes as he always has, since those Babybird lo-fi albums of 1995-6, continuing to work on his 150th album release in just 10 years. Going upstairs into the smallest bedroom of his house, or studio as his family laughingly like to call it, Jones is at home with just one laptop, a few barely fully strung guitars and a piano. With his headphones on, all that can be heard is Jones tippy-tapping annoyingly on a plastic two octave keyboard.
“Bad Old Man” was basically written like that too: as a demo, then blown up by the band. It is possibly Stephen Jones’ favourite song, especially live.
Praised at the time of its 1998 release by Melody Maker, Time Out and Smash Hits, it was Jones’ greatest pleasure that the track got into the top 40, with lines like “he drowned his stepson in the duckpond” and “he hid razorblades in the ice cream” making it even more subversive than “You’re Gorgeous”.
Now, Babybird is bringing “Bad Old Man” back to UK audiences with a string of UK tour dates this Winter. Kicking off in Southampton on 30 November, the tour will see stops across the country as the pioneers of critical pop bring their charming wit and innovative sound to audiences across the nation. Full dates and details below.
BABYBIRD THE BAD OLD MAN TOUR 2022
30 – Southampton, Joiners w/ Ian Prowse
01 – Birmingham, O2 Institute3 w/ Ian Prowse
02 – Sheffield, O2 Academy2 w/ Tony Wright (Terrorvision)
08 – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms w/ Ian Prowse
11 – Newcastle, Cluny w/ Tony Wright (Terrorvision)
Tickets on sale here.